Prayer Focus
Movie Review


MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for brief mild language

Reviewed by: Keith Howland

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family, Kids, Adults
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 21, 2005 (wide—1,800 US theaters)
Featuring: Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Freddy Rodriguez, Kris Kristofferson, Elisabeth Shue
Director: John Gatins
Producer: Michael Tollin, Brian Robbins, E.K. Gaylord II
Distributor: Dreamworks SKG
Copyright, Dreamworks SKG Copyright, Dreamworks SKG Copyright, Dreamworks SKG Copyright, Dreamworks SKG Copyright, Dreamworks SKG Copyright, Dreamworks SKG Copyright, Dreamworks SKG
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Dreamworks SKG

horses in the Bible


“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) and his wife Lily (Elisabeth Shue) are struggling financially. Ben has a strained relationship with his father (Kris Kristofferson) and an underdeveloped one with his only daughter, Cale (Dakota Fanning). He never had the chance to own and race his own horses, as he dreamt of doing as a child. Now his job is to ensure the wellness of racehorses for their wealthy owner.

When a horse named Sonador (played by Sacrifice) breaks her leg in a race, Ben refuses to have her put down, but instead brings her home. He loses his job, so he occupies himself with restoring Sonador to health. He is pragmatic in his hopes of making money from the wounded mare, but Cale has big dreams. Her dream is that Sonador, whose name is Spanish for “Dreamer,” will run again-and win.

The outcome of this film will not surprise anyone. But that does not matter. What matters is that it ends the way you want it to. It is told with such unblushing conviction (and with such gorgeous horses and scenery), that its intended audience should be satisfied. This is not a film for the cynical; it is a film for all who believe in long shots and second chances—and who doesn’t?

This film is refreshingly inoffensive. Its few mild profanities can be counted on one hand, and the pivotal horse injury is not graphic. Parents need not fear taking their children, although perhaps the pace of the film is best suited for children of about ten and older. (Cale is the character with whom the viewer is meant to relate, and she is about ten or eleven.)

Another refreshing aspect of the film is its meaningful themes, which include working together as a family and encouraging others to pursue their interests by using their abilities. Perhaps most central to the film, however, is the value of doing something for someone else above the pursuit of personal gain. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), and “Dreamer” is evidence of that great dictum.

Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer Comments
Positive—Excellent family entertainment! “Dreamer” is refreshingly clean and involving (my wife cried). I, too, was emotionally moved as reconciliation transpired between the father and son. The father’s doting child receives the real prize, her father’s attention and genuine interest. As the remarkable story unfolded, I had to keep reminding myself that this is based on a true story. I only noticed one cuss word (“h___”). Otherwise a truly family friendly film.
My Ratings: Good / 4
JD, age 35
Positive—“Dreamer” is a celebration of goodness and hope. It is an extremely decent and uplifting movie—one that will make you “rejoice with those who rejoice.” It seems purposely designed to make you feel great. The audience I sat with were clapping and cheering with it. It’s not perfect, and the drama seems a little forced at times, but in light of its purpose, you can manage to forgive those things. The only offensive thing was a couple minor instances of mild bad language. It is a film that appeals to the young, old and those in between. It is also a story about family, ranging from kids to parents to grandparents.
My Ratings:
Chris Monroe, Christian Spotlight Staff Writer, age 32
Positive—I was fortunate to be able to view this movie at a pre-release screening and would like to recommend it to all as a great family movie. Typical in many ways to other sports movies and horse movies, it does not disappoint. Also fairly typical as a good vs. evil movie, however, the story is different enough not to bore you. It’s about a down and out horse trainer (Ben Crane played by Kurt Russell) who has issues with his Dad (also a retired horse trainer named Pop Crane, played by Kris Kristoferson), and who doesn’t necessarily want to pass his career choice down to his daughter(Cale Crane, played flawlessly by Dakota Fanning). Yet Cale has a great relationship with her grandfather and just wants to be like her daddy. The relationship interplay between the three generations is a bit choppy and/or corny in places, but as the father of an only daughter, I could definitely see some of myself and my daughter in the film. A particularly poignant scene in the movie takes place at Parent’s Night at Cale’s school—her Dad reads Cale’s story about a stupid king and a horse, and it’s obvious that the story is about him and the horse he is training. It makes him realize that his daughter considers him to be her hero, stupid king or not. The ever positive Cale also helps an ex-jockey (Freddy Rodriguez) face his demons.

If I had to summarize the theme of the movie in one word, it would be hope. Throughout the film, I was reminded of the saying, “If you think you can or think you cannot; you’re right.” You have to believe—believe that you can win, believe in yourself, believe in others. I honestly believe you could use this film to illustrate the power of optimistic thought and faith.

This movie is great for all ages. Children under 10 might be affected by some sadness and trauma surrounding the horse’s breakdown, but since the horse is NOT euthanized, it should be okay. Rarely these days do you find a movie where people in the theater spontaneously erupt into applause—it happened in the screening I attended, not just at the end of the movie, but during it as well. The movie will make you cry, make you laugh, and make you cry again, with tears of joy. One of the better sports movies I’ve seen. One final note—Dakota Fanning steals the show, again. She has the potential to be the next Jodie Foster or Shirley Temple. Go see the film. You won’t be disappointed.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
Carl Fuglein, age 58
Positive—This is a great family film. It’s funny, moving and inspiring; I highly recommend it for all.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Tiffany Gecsey, age 37
Positive—As a whole we were very happy with this film. It’s been a while since I have seen a movie that was so enjoyable and uplifting! My little girls want to see it again! My 75 year old father went to see this movie, and he told me he was standing on his feet cheering and clapping with the rest of the theater! The only thing I noticed was a very, very slight bit of salty language in a couple of places (very mild). In the end, the mom had a bit of a low cut dress on, but the camera seemed to try to steer clear of it. The cleavage shown was nothing though compared to some of the Victorian era movies that conservatives rant and rave about. Very happy with Dreamer. We plan on seeing it again! Wonderful film!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Amelia, age 44
Positive—It has been a long time since I’ve seen such a wonderful, inspiring movie. It reminds me of, “a little child shall lead them…” because Cale, the young daughter in the movie, showed all the adults how to believe and have hope. She teaches her father many things, and the best part is to see him then become a better father and son.

This movie is a keeper. The acting is awesome. I want to watch it again. I believe you and your entire family will enjoy the whole 2 hours together. Let’s encourage Hollywood to make more movies like this one!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Kris Taranec, age 46
Positive—A movie for the entire family. No swearing or nudity, and a good story line. Why don’t they make more movies of this caliber?
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Heidi Summers, age 41
Comments from young people
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I usually am bored with the little kid audience type movies. But this one is an exception. I absolutely loved the horses and Dakota Fanning did such an awesome job as usual. With it being clean and with no sexual references (a rarity these days) I left the theater feeling like I had NOT wasted my time in watching this movie. People tend to think that the animated films are the only ones that children will enjoy, but I will tell you that there were many children in the theater who were laughing and having a great time. Including the parent shwo were with them! I hope that every family takes the time to go and see this movie, and if not be sure to rent it when it comes out on DVD!
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Ansley, age 13
Positive—This movie was incredible. When I went to the theater I did not think I was going to like the film. But I was proven wrong on every aspect of my doubts. The story is very well portrayed, and the acting was very good. At exciting parts of the movie, eveyone was getting very excited. And at the end of the race almost everyone cheered, including myself. A very good movie for anyone who loves to dream.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Alaina Cox, age 13
Positive—I thought this movie was great! I love horses and this movie inspired me. I would recommend this movie to anyone of all ages!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Marlena, age 8
Positive—Wow, I love this movie! It is a great story, very neat. It has great moral values, and The horse is adorable. As a Christian, I like how the movie has no profanity of ANY kind. Though, I may have missed if somebody used the Lord’s name in vain, I don’t think anyone did. I also LOVE ponies so, this was a great movie for me. If you love horses, or just want a great family movie, see this one!
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Alexa, age 12
Positive—I think that this movie is a very good movie for all ages. It is a beautiful film and shows the difficulty of getting over how a loved one died, such as in this movie it is a horse riding accident. There is some profanity in this film, the dad uses God’s name in vain a few times. At the end, however, everyone in the theater clapped, and I was surprised because I have never heard any clapping at a movie before.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Justin Emmons, age 11